By Davide Barbuscia
KUWAIT (Reuters) – Oman is not in discussions with Gulf countries for any aid package, an official said, despite a large fiscal deficit and expectations of a slowdown in economic growth this year.
“Not from our side. I have not discussed anything,” Tahir Al Amri, executive president of the central bank, told reporters in Kuwait ahead of a banking conference this week.
The Gulf state’s finances have been hurt by a slump in oil prices in recent years.
The central bank estimates real gross domestic product growth at 1.1% this year, down from an estimated 2.2% last year, it told Reuters in a statement late on Sunday.
Despite its access to financial markets – with a well received $3 billion bond issuance in July – Oman’s fiscal position remains weak and its debt is rated junk by rating agencies.
But Amri said the deficit was decreasing, partly thanks to more control on spending.
“The deficit has gone down. There is a little bit of control on spending and we’ve got a little bit more money from the excise tax.”
Amri also reiterated Oman’s commitment to the rial’s peg against the U.S. dollar, saying it provides stability.
“There are no plans to change the monetary policy with regards to the exchange rate. We believe we can support it.”
(Reporting by Davide Barbuscia; Writing by Saeed Azhar; Editing by David Evans and Lisa Shumaker)